Our library system needed a fresh perspective on our staffing practices. We were mired in practices that were a result of evolution instead of thoughtful planning. The Singer Group helped us clarify our thoughts on the changes we wanted to make to our staffing practices to better align them with our strategic direction. They also helped us to understand the balance between flexibility and turnover and gave us some suggestions for hiring practices. The consultants were friendly and professional, and our staff connected with them and willingly shared their thoughts and ideas. I recommend The Singer Group for public library systems that need support from a consultancy in making these important changes.
Saint Paul Public Library, Joanna Brookes, Public Services Director
PROJECT: Change Management
The Community Library Network hired The Singer Group to perform an organizational structural analysis of the upper management levels of the library. In addition, the Library asked for recommendations for succession planning for the upper management staff.
Dr. Paula Singer and Dr. Lucy Holman spent two days at the library, interviewing the Director, the three Administrative Team members and five coordinators. The interviews and verbal comments were thoughtful, incisive and probing. The recommendations and suggestions were honest and thought provoking. There were uncomfortable moments for the library staff, but the recommendations were well thought out and appropriate. Dr. Singer and Dr. Holman were easy to work with even in the difficult moments and were respectful of the staff members’ concerns. Working with The Singer Group was hard work, rewarding and ultimately successful.
The Director and the Administrative Team have accepted the recommendations and suggestions with a few revisions.
Community Library Network, John Hartung, Director
PROJECT: Organizational Structural Analysis and Succession Planning
When we sensed that our traditional public library organizational structure was obstructing, rather than facilitating, the nimble, values-based approach to service we sought, while hindering collaboration across departments and with community partners, we knew it was time for significant organizational change. Paula Singer was an invaluable help in structuring meetings with Department Heads and Coordinators that clearly communicated the need for change and assumptions for how change would be accomplished, alleviating much of the anxiety of change. She suggested a method for involving key senior staff in development of alternate organizational structures, a method that helped them look at options and have a role in selection of the plan eventually adopted, key to gaining buy-in. While a major organizational change will never be easy, Paula’s experience enabled us to communicate more clearly, eliciting information about hot button issues and sacred cows so that we could deal with them rather than have them derail plans. Her pleasant manner and sense of humor defused tensions at critical moments. Paula spends the time up front to learn about your organization and what you want to accomplish, then works with you to help you achieve your vision.
The organizational structure we implemented as a result of working with Paula has enabled us to work much more effectively in pursuit of our goals, while providing numerous individual staff with opportunities for growth and professional development. We were pleased to be selected by the Urban Libraries Council as the Top Innovator for 2014 in the area of Organizational Change and Strategic Management.
Skokie Public Library, Carolyn Anthony, Director
PROJECT: Organizational Change
Moving to web scale presents a tremendous opportunity to adjust workflows and processes to increase efficiency and realign priorities. PALNI selected OCLC’s WMS to support radical collaboration between the consortium’s twenty-three private academic libraries. To truly take advantage of what OCLC WorldShare has to offer and to signal to all our staff that PALNI was “all-in”, PALNI also contracted for more detailed workflow analysis support from OCLC’s WMS Consulting Services and change management support from The Singer Group.
Paula Singer and Gail Griffith from The Singer Group have been invaluable to the success of the project, to the professional development of our staff, and to this particular executive director’s sanity. Singer’s assessment of our organization’s readiness for change led to a customized and highly collaborative program to support every single person in the PALNI consortium in their ability to change. Using the Ryan assessment tool, Singer gave us a common language to address how we differed in our approach to change and to understand the overall iterative process of change. The two day workshop produced a bonding experience that is sustaining us for months afterwards. We continue to use the language learned to identify questions from resistance and to fully appreciate what every single member of the PALNI libraries is able to bring to the project.
The additional support from OCLC Consulting and The Singer Group has been vital to this project. PALNI fully intends to continue to use these services as we move forward with our goal of radical collaboration. I am intensely grateful for their support.
Kirsten Leonard, MLIS, MA, Executive Director
PROJECT: Change Management
After taking the rudimentary organization cultural assessment quiz on The Singer Group website, I initially approached Dr. Jenny Wade and Dr. Singer of The Singer Group about constructing a cultural assessment instrument for our library staff. We then involved the entire staff and board in the process in starting to invoke/nurture that culture. Dr. Wade not only constructed a well-thought out and customized survey (delivered anonymously through Survey Monkey) but also provided comprehensive telephone feedback and support throughout the entire process, a thorough PowerPoint for staff and management and an on-site presentation leading Management staff through the first exploratory process. Her presentation style was informative but conversational and she accomplished involving everyone in the room in a positive fashion.
Dr. Wade was very professional but friendly and truly interested in solving the problem of our organization. She not only listened well but translated our thoughts into cogent and useable documents that fit our needs – nothing cookie-cutter or boiler plate about the survey instruments or PowerPoint reporting statistics. I can tell that she truly cares about the needs of her clients. Also, as a medium-sized library, we had a specific (read ‘low’) budget in mind. She was able to meet our budget needs but exceed our customized expectations. Dr. Wade is also a ‘people person’ of the highest order. I will definitely put The Singer Group on my list for future projects.
The Singer Group’s objective of getting maximum results for their clients using a high level of strategic planning paired with specific project focus that is on time and within budget is right on target.
McHenry Public Library District
James Scholtz, Executive Director
PROJECT: Culture Assessment
Wow. What a great two days. Thank you for the fantastic preparation and forethought that went into the planning of this Change Management workshop. I’ve talked to most of my staff about their impressions, and they all indicated how impressed they were with the Singer Consultants. As many of them noted, the day was balanced between creative activities with a purpose and more thoughtful, analytical opportunities.
So, we continue on, and we thank you for helping Butler Libraries prepare for this transition.
Butler University Libraries
Sally Neal, Associate Dean for Public Services
PROJECT: Change Management Workshop
ALA engaged Paula Singer to be the lead facilitator for a national Summit on the Future of Libraries at the Library of Congress. We particularly wanted Paula because she is outside of the library profession yet works closely with librarians so she could bring a fresh perspective yet knew the basic territory. We were not disappointed. Paula participated fully in the planning, helped us finalize the program, helped us select and the train eight table facilitators, and managed the two day conference with aplomb and confidence. As usual, plans have to be changed at the last minute and Paula was always calm and clear in helping the 80 participants stay on track. She was an excellent choice and I highly recommend her.
American Library Association
Summit on the Future of Libraries
Nancy Bolt, Project Manager
PROJECT: Lead Facilitator
I really appreciate the flexibility, strong, direct communication, and “outside the box” perspective of the SingerGroup. With a solid understanding of our organization, meetings were very well organized and focused, with set outcomes and outputs. Staff loved being involved and developed full trust in The Singer Group as a result of powerfully positive project activities used to engage staff. The Singer Group approach is to negotiate, question, suggest and give options. As a result we ended up with a better plan and better outcomes. In a timeframe much faster than I expected, the overall environment of our organization has changed positively. I know customers are reaping benefits from this positive change as well.
Caroline County Public Library
Debby Bennett, Library Director
PROJECT: Employee Engagement Survey and Action Planning, Development of Performance Management System for Library Director
The Singer Group does excellent work and we enjoyed working with them very much. Research and analysis was very sound and made it much easier for administration and board to make needed adjustments. A majority of staff bought into the process and appreciated the expertise that the Singer Group brought to the project.
Donna Morris, Metropolitan Library System
The Loyola/Notre Dame Library has engaged the Singer Group for three successful consultations over the last five years. The first engagement required the Singer Group to assist with a major library staff reorganization effort, involving thirty-two positions, which produced successful results. The Singer Group developed excellent rapport and trust with the library staff through each step of the reorganization process.
Subsequently, the Library asked the Singer Group to develop a pay for performance evaluation system and a revised salary structure based on levels of responsibility and years of service that would support progressive accomplishments across the organization.
The third consultation, also successful, utilized Paula Singer’s coaching skills on optimizing executive performance.
Our experience with the principals of the Singer Group has been informed by proactive response to the library’s specific needs, customized solutions for our work environment, timely interventions and reporting, valuable advice on personnel management and effective communication with administration and staff. Fiscally, the Singer Group fees have been great value for the high quality of the services provided.”
John McGinty, Director of Loyola/Notre Dame Library (MD)
As Board Chair of Magic Me, I saw The Singer Group transform a disparate group of new board members into a cohesive, unified and focused machine. The organization (which became a model for grassroots non-profits) can trace its success to the board and staff facilitation The Singer Group performed many years ago.”
Julie Mercer, Managing PrincipalColumbia Consulting Groupm (MD)